The President of India, Droupadi Murmu, is likely to be present as the chief guest at the closing ceremony of Durand Cup’s 131st edition, as the season-opener of the country’s football calendar looks to regain its glory days.
The President, who is also the supreme commander of the country’s armed forces, regularly attended the final of the tournament before the practice was discontinued a few years ago.
The tournament has already been recognized as an official Cup event happening at the start of the season by the continental body Asian Football Confederation, encouraging the organizer to expand the format to 20 teams and add two more venues (Guwahati and Imphal) in a multi-city arrangement.
The tournament gets underway in Kolkata on August 16 while the final is scheduled to be held on September 18 at the Salt Lake Stadium.
“With the Durand Cup getting recognized as an official tournament in the country’s football calendar, we are hopeful that it will be growing in stature every season. Keeping that in mind we have sent a request to have President Murmu as the chief guest in the closing ceremony,” said the chairman of the organizing committee, Lt. Gen K.K. Repswal.
The organizers have approached the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, to inaugurate the tournament.
The tournament will also see an increase in the prize money with the winner bagging Rs 60 lakh and the runner-up getting Rs 40 lakh. The amount may further increase depending on a bigger support from the sponsors, informed the organizer.